Greenville MS is home of both the annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival and the Delta Blues & Heritage Festival which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. However, it’s CBD is in need of redevelopment in order to restore blighted properties to active use, repair poor and aging infrastructure, update antiquated building codes and policies, and generate more private capital investment into the community. There is also the need for additional housing & commercial space, and strategies for growing equitably through economic empowerment of marginalized populations, and capitalizing upon the economic engines related to cultural tourism.
Through a focus on community visioning, the community was able to share information with the City staff, local developers, and the Chamber of Commerce and to design local solutions for identification & promotion, creative economic development, promotional activities, design for investment, and phasing of implementation. The CIRD workshop helped the community to uncover the reasons why the economic benefits of the “Blues” remains in predominantly white hands and why people of color are still not receiving the economic benefits of the tourism economy they helped create. The Building Equitably discussion focused on ways that Delta communities can approach community development, the barriers that consistently come to the surface in the development of black communities, and how communities of color can mobilize to create shared wealth.
Discussions in the Delta tend to center on how to attract additional tourism or industry dollars but rarely focus on how to attract and further retain residents who have been migrating out of the Delta since the 1920s. The workshop provided touch points for local community developers in terms of shifting their focus to how to create a better quality of life for residents as opposed to how to offer a better experience for tourists. Suggestions included investments in safe and affordable housing, improving local infrastructure, investing in community shared space, and the revitalization of Main Street.
The Business Attraction and Retention Panelists shared how Greenville can attract new businesses to blighted properties downtown, the resources available to community members interested in doing so, and how other Delta communities have taken advantage of these resources and incentives to make real change happen.
The Developing Smart Growth Policies & Building Codes session focused on the blighted properties in Greenville’s CBD and how the coming Federal Courthouse could be the catalyst that pushes through new policies that draw owners to make investments.
Recommended actions included:
• Narrowing Main Street
• Establishing regularly occurring events for downtown (beyond festival season)
• Establishing development along levee systems (capitalize on underdeveloped waterfront)
• Expand the public market
• Redeveloping a green space within the Central Business District that is lost to new federal courthouse
• Working on a branded entertainment district
• Creating a blight reduction program with the government in partnership with the community
• Enacting anti-neglect ordinances
• Revitalizing the Nelson Street corridor, the City’s historically black and once thriving commercial district
Main Street Greenville will work with the Office of the Mayor and the city council to incorporate the community’s voice into Greenville’s strategic plan, including identified community wants and needs, and will develop a set of policy initiatives for the city to adopt.
The Federal Reserve of St. Louis will continue to offer technical assistance, research, and data through their Delta Placemaking Initiative which will continue through 2019. The Federal Reserve will also offer convening support through their ongoing Delta Series hosted in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Main Street Mississippi will offer consulting support to the City of Greenville, Mississippi and provide key analysis of festival outputs/outcomes with Mississippi State University to Main Street Greenville.